Friday, April 20, 2012

7 Resources for Teaching and Learning About Mount Everest

This is one of those posts that I write every year just because this is one of my "pet topics." Visiting the Himalayas is on my life list so I like to write about Mount Everest when I get a chance. This year's spring climbing season on Mount Everest is underway so I thought I would review some resources for teaching and learning about Mount Everest.

National Geographic Expeditions has a lesson plan for middle school students about the history and development of climbing Mount Everest. The lesson plan also touches on the physical challenges posed by high altitude mountaineering.

The Rest of Everest video podcast provides more than 100 hours of video and commentary from two expeditions to the Himalayas. If you're looking for a way to show students what life on a mountain climbing trip is really like from start to finish, the Rest of Everest is the place to go., hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is this 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using this panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest's neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste. The rest of the list of interactive panoramas includes views of cultural festivals and tourist attractions. The database of US panoramic views includes the Grand Canyon, the Jefferson Memorial, and two dozen other panoramas.

Everest: Beyond the Limit was a Discovery series that chronicled the efforts of amateur mountain climbers attempting to climb Mount Everest. The climbers are accompanied by professional guides and Sherpas. The entire climb was coordinated by Russell Brice. To accompany Everest: Beyond the Limit, Discovery has developed a number of interesting and educational web resources. On the Everest: Beyond the Limit website you will find interactive Sherpa-cams, puzzles, games, and climbers' blogs. The Sherpa-cams give you perspective of what a climber sees has he or she ascends Mount Everest.

This Google Earth tour of Mount Everest's South Col route offers good views of the steps and camps along the way to the summit of Mount Everest. The South Col route is the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used on the first successful summit climb. The South Col route is also the most commonly used route up Mount Everest.

A team of scientists studying climate change in Nepal have established a live webcam feed featuring Mount Everest. The camera is only operational during daylight hours in Nepal (roughly 6am to 6pm local time) but if you can grab the feed at the right time you can get some great looks at the mountain. The same researchers are also posting real-time climate data about Mount Everest and other mountains in the region.

I recently read Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 which I downloaded for free from Google Books. In the introduction there is a three page explanation of the methods used to measure the height of Mount Everest. An explanation of the differences in measurements is also provided in the introduction. Part of that explanation includes differences in snow fall, cyclical deviations of gravity, and differences atmospheric refraction when observations were made. I'm not a mathematics teacher and will never pretend to be one, but reading that introduction did get me thinking about a possible mathematics lesson.

On a mildly related note and on a promotion of a Mainer note, Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it is far better than Krakauer's Into Thin Air.

Three Simple Tools for Creating Strong Passwords

Some readers may recall that last weekend I tried to explain passwords and computer viruses to my step-father. In the post about that experience I included a short video from Explania about how to craft a strong password. If after watching that video you or your students still need help creating strong passwords, here are three simple tools that will help you develop strong passwords.

One of the best ways to protect your online identity is to create strong passwords containing unique characters. Sometimes it's difficult to think of new strong passwords. When you're having a mental block thinking up a new password try PassCreator. PassCreator is a free service that helps you create a strong password. To use PassCreator just select the attributes you want your password to have (number of characters, character type, etc.) then press "create." If you don't like the password created for you, just press "create" again to generate another password.

Password Bird is a simple website that asks you three questions then generates a password for you based on your responses. Every password it generated for me included numbers and letters. If you don't like the password it generates for you, simply click the link for a new password.

If you've ever been in that place where you're stuck trying to develop a password, PassPlex is for you. PassPlex is a simple tool for generating strong and unique passwords. To use PassPlex to create a password all you have to do is enter the number of characters you need and the level of complexity you desire for your password.

Microsoft Flight Simulator in the Steam Gaming Environment

Last month I wrote about the latest version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator being available to download and play for free. This week I learned from Make Use Of that the Microsoft Flight Simulator is also available to play on the Steam gaming platform. Like the version available from Microsoft, the Steam version of the game is free for the basic package and there are add-ons that can be purchased.

Applications for Education
Playing Microsoft Flight might be a fun way for some students to experiment with some basic aerospace physics. On a related note, Google Earth has a flight simulator which you can activate by going to the tools menu and selecting "activate flight simulator" or by press "ctrl+alt+a.

Image Resizer Increases Image Accessibility

Image Resizer is a handy Firefox add-on that enables you to click on just about any image on a website and resize it. It could be very helpful for students who need to see images in more detail or just need the images enlarged for better viewing. I learned about Image Resizer from a recent episode of Tekzilla Daily which you can watch below.

Google Apps Terminology Explained

I am often asked for clarification on the differences between Google Apps and Google Apps for Education. I understand the need for clarification  because the terminology can sometimes be confusing. Hopefully, the following explanations will offer some clarity.

The term Google Apps generally refers to the suite of Google services (Gmail, Docs, Sites, etc) that a person or organization uses under their own registered domain. For example, I have a Google Apps account for Free Technology for Teachers through which I access Gmail, Google Sites, Docs, Voice, Alerts, and other Google services. This is slightly different than a standard Google account because all of my services are linked together under the banner of Free Technology for Teachers which is why my email is richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com even though it's powered by Gmail.

There are four different versions of Google Apps. Here's how Google explains them on their official blog.

  • Google Apps is our free service geared towards families, entrepreneurs and other groups up to 50 users.
  • Google Apps for Business offers 25GB of email storage per user, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, data migration capabilities, advanced management tools, telephone support, added security features and more, all for $50 per user per year.
  • Google Apps for Government is FISMA certified and designed with local, state and federal agencies in mind.
  • Google Apps for Education offers many benefits of Google Apps for Business, but at no cost to schools, universities and qualifying non-profits.